After hail the day before on Easter Sunday and a crazy rainstorm that night, my G Adventures tour group woke up to calmer skies on Monday and we were ready for our first hike of the week on the Amalfi Coast, through Valle delle Ferriere national park.
I was hesitant to take a hiking tour because I’m not the most athletic person in the world. I wasn’t sure if I would be physically able to handle all the stairs and inclines that the Amalfi Coast is famous for. I didn’t want to be the one hiker lagging behind everyone else. Yet this tour was my chance to go travel with a group instead of traveling solo, which is not my favorite thing to do, and I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity. I found comfort in the fact that if I didn’t feel up to a hike, I could pass and go do something on my own but I was determined to hike because I knew it would be worth it.
Our tour guide Elisabetta was wonderful. Every night at dinner, she would talk us through the next day’s hike and what we could expect in terms of difficulty. So we could decide for ourselves if we wanted to join the group or not. Our first hike to Valle delle Ferriere would be our easiest, Elisabetta said, and while I was definitely going to hike it I was looking forward to seeing what she meant by easy because then I would have a better idea of what to expect of the hikes for the rest of the week.
Our group was staying at an agriturismo in the town of Furore, which was a 15-minute drive down to the port and town of Amalfi, where we would start the hike. We had two drivers for the week who drove us in vans down to the port. You could also take a bus or rent a car, or if you are staying in another town like Positano, Sorrento, or Capri, you can take a ferry to Amalfi as well.
We started our walk through the small town of Amalfi. It’s full of restaurants, cafes, clothing & shoe stores, and lots and lots of tourist shops selling everything lemon – lemon chocolate, limoncello, lemon candles, lemon soaps. We didn’t stop to shop though and kept walking knowing we would have time to eat and browse when we came back from our hike.
Once we passed through the town we started on an incline up a hill and then steep steps to get to the Valle dei Mulini route to get to the park. I was already huffing and puffing but was glad one of my other tour mates was doing the same and joked around by trying to lean on me for support.
Elisabetta made sure to stop a few times on our ascent so that we could catch our breath and take sips of water while she told us about the area. On our way up, we walked past tons of lemon groves that were growing but were at this time covered until they were ready to be picked. We could look out over a vast valley of just lemons.
And as we hiked further and further away from Amalfi, every so often I would look back over my shoulder and could see a tiny slice of water sandwiched between the cliffs.
As we got to the park and left behind the lemons and the view, our route was alongside the Rio Canneto, or the river Canneto. It was so quiet except for the water running and for our footsteps walking over the sticks, rocks, and leaves and the damp ground after yesterday’s rain.
Pretty soon we came upon abandoned structures that used to be old paper mills and ironworks. There is a paper museum back in the town of Amalfi that one of my tour mates said was worth the visit. Paper making is a big industry for the town of Amalfi.
The quiet didn’t last for long because then we started hearing Eminem’s music blaring. People were camping throughout the park and the smell of BBQ mixed with the fresh air. Elisabetta said Italians don’t really camp except for the day after Easter, which was today. The locals set up tents by the river and were sitting by fires, relaxing, talking, listening to music, eating and drinking. A pretty nice Monday if you ask me.
Once we got to the end of the trail, Elisabetta said there was a spot further up with a beautiful waterfall that we could go to if we wanted. It was a 10 minute or so hike upwards with more steep rocky steps. I thought for sure that my thighs and calves were going to be sore the next day but I didn’t feel a thing, so maybe I am fit?
With each step I took, I just reminded myself to put one foot in front of the other, one foot at a time. And breathing is important too especially with the fresh air all around. I didn’t focus on where I was in line compared with the other hikers and just tried to enjoy the exercise and being outside in nature which is not part of my everyday working in downtown San Francisco. I actually liked pushing myself physically and it was well worth it once we got to the waterfall.
We had nowhere else to go but back down and of course the way back felt much shorter and easier to walk. The view was just as incredible on the return as it was going up to the park. I felt a little more confident as we walked back to Amalfi because I finally was able to gauge what our hikes would be like instead of just reading the description on the tour website and only speculating. This was not going to be bootcamp and Elisabetta was not going to run our bodies into the ground. Everyone on the tour could walk at their own pace. There would be time for breaks and time to simply enjoy the view because after all this is vacation!
And when we got back to Amalfi, my tour mates and I were hungry for lunch and some shopping throughout the town. Like I mentioned before, some of our group went to the paper museum, while others like myself checked out the town’s cathedral, ate some gelato, and then warmed up with espresso.
So in all in all, Elisabetta was right – it was a relatively easy hike. There were parts of it that had the steep inclines but there were more flat sections than anything. I think it took about 2-3 hours to go up and come back down including short breaks to drink water, catch our breath, and take tons of photos. I would definitely recommend this hike if you don’t want something too challenging and that won’t take up your entire day. You really only need a few hours or so to explore the town of Amalfi itself too as it is pretty small. And what I loved most about Valle delle Ferriere was that it was so different from the other hikes on the tour because it was a national park and a foresty dreamland as opposed to the other hikes we would do which had ocean views, but I’m not complaining about the ocean views either as you’ll see in my posts to come!
*I paid for my own way on the “Local Living Italy – Amalfi Coast” tour with G Adventures and all thoughts and opinions are my own.